I’ve always assumed exercising my core meant doing sit-ups in pursuit of six-pack perfection. But a trip to a physical therapist has given me a new way of understanding core strength. Apparently, that elusive six-pack is just one of dozens of muscle groups that make up our core.
The core muscles include all the supportive muscles of the spine—not only the visible surface muscles, but also the smaller, deeper muscles like the ones that stabilize each vertebra. All of these muscles work together to hold us upright. A strong core prevents injuries, providing a solid foundation that steadies us when we push our bodies to work harder.
Last year I started training for a half marathon. I built up mileage quickly, excited to be running again after some time away from the track. After a few months, I completed my 13.2-mile run. I also injured my hip. My training had given me the surface strength to run the distance, but my deeper core muscles were not strong enough to prevent the injury.
The remedy: small exercises, repeated every day. Designed to strengthen my core, this exercise routine is quite modest. But through repetition, the practice has improved my posture and given me the freedom to run without pain.
So what about our spiritual core? As Christians we believe God breathes life into us and invites us into relationship. Our daily spiritual practice allows us to deepen this relationship and to strengthen our faith.
Faith is our core. Faith holds us up. We are quick to consider how we might train to move those mountains; but in our rush to do something grand, we often forget about those smaller deeper “spiritual muscles” and the daily practices that strengthen them.
These practices may be modest; yet through repetition, they enable us to build a strong foundation, a core power that will steady us no matter what comes. This summer, allow these daily devos and spiritual practices to deepen your relationship with God and to strengthen your core.
Rachel Crumpler serves as the assistant editor of devozine and Pockets magazines.
This article appears in the July/ August 2018 edition of devozine, a magazine from The Upper Room for teens and by teens.
“When we are living in our truest deepest selves we know how to care and connect.”